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Meat Sci. 2010 Sep;86(1):103-9. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2010.04.027. Epub 2010 Apr 29.

Cellular signaling pathways regulating the initial stage of adipogenesis and marbling of skeletal muscle.

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Department of Animal Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.


Due to extensive efforts to increase lean growth, intramuscular fat (marbling) is reducing in beef, pork and chicken breast, which impairs the eating quality of meat. Because fat is the major contributor to meat flavor, the presence of intramuscular fat is indispensible for the high eating quality of meat. However, up to now, our understanding of adipogenesis (formation of fat cells) in skeletal muscle is limited. Adipocyte differentiation in skeletal muscle initiates from multipotent mesenchymal stem cells, which are abundant in skeletal muscle at early developmental stages. In this review, the known cellular mechanisms regulating adipogenesis from multipotent cells are summarized, which include hedgehog, Wingless and Int (Wnt)/beta-catenin, and bone morphogenesis protein (BMP) mediated signaling pathways, as well as AMP-activated protein kinase. Promoting adipogenesis within skeletal muscle will effectively increase intramuscular fat, improving the quality of meat.

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